Trekking the Inca trail is not to be underestimated! You'll be battling with steep climbs, high altitude and long days that start before sunrise. Here's our top tips on how to survive the Inca trail hike:
1. Mentally prepare - don't think it will be a walk in the park! It's tough going, seriously.
2. Give yourself a couple of days in Cusco or somewhere at altitude to acclimatise. Altitude sickness is not fun.
3. We love camping but if you're not a fan and tend to not sleep well you may want take some rum to knock you out. Or an eye mask and earplugs. Up to you.
4. Take some rum anyway - you'll make friends quickly amongst your tour group.
5. Take nuts and dried fruits for energy boosts - cheapish from San Pedro market in Cusco.
6. Get some 2L water carriers, very handy and 2L should be your minimum daily intake.
7. Drink and snack often - every 10/15 mins on the big uphill hikes.
8. Chew Coco leaves, drink coco tea or suck coco sweets for the altitude. Just don't be empted to take it back home - it's illegal outside of South America.
9. Pay for a porter to carry your stuff. You can do this when you book for the entire trip or you can hire porters on day 2 & 3 for $100 sol per day.
10. If you are determined to carry your own stuff (believe me you will change your mind on day 2) take AS little as you can - seriously you are going to rather stink from wearing the same clothes than carry them.
11. Pack light and pack right - prepare for all weather conditions. Athletic wear, a waterproof poncho and something for the cold are what we took.
12. If you are hiring a sleeping bag take a sleeping bag liner. No wants to sleep in other people's sweat and grime. Also take a travel pillow - they're not provided.
13. Take flip flops. You will want your trainers/hiking boots off to air your tootsies at the end of the day.
14. Take a portable battery charger for your phone/camera/GoPro. You do not want that running out and there is virtually nowhere to charge stuff on the trail.
15. Other than at the designated longer resting stops every couple of hours - don't stop for more than a few minutes. It's much harder to get going again.
16. Rent hiking poles. They help.
17. Listen to the guides, they know what they are taking about, when they say stay mountain side because the porters run past and you can get knocked off to your death they are serious. You will realise this when you see the porters running!
18. If you can find the breath to chat to people it will make the time pass quicker on the ascents and give you something else to focus on other than how much your muscles are burning.
19. Take deep breaths, the burning is just your body needing more oxygen.
20. Stretch when you have long breaks (lunch etc), basically when your muscles are going to get cold and then at the end of the day too.
21. Find and go at your own pace, it was easier for us to go a bit faster than walk slow. That's obviously not the case for everyone. Don't be stuck in a group where people are walking at an uncomfortable pace for you or taking more or less breaks than you need.
Listen to your body and remember it's just exercise, you're not dying! Well hopefully not anyway...
James & Sarah x